KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttlecock kicking and vovinam – a Vietnamese martial art – are likely to be among the sports contested at next year’s SEA Games in Hanoi.
However, these will not be the only sports in which hosts Vietnam hope to excel. The bulk of the events will probably be Olympics sports.
Vietnam have already emerged as the new sports powerhouse in the region and they were the runners-up in the Philippines Games last year, sweeping 98 golds.
What was more impressive is that two-thirds of their gold medal haul were won from Olympic sports, including 16 and 10 from blue riband sports, athletics and swimming respectively.
Vietnam were also overall champions when they last hosted in 2003, bagging a whopping 158 golds.
The preliminary list of sports for the Hanoi Games is expected to be unveiled after a SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) Council meeting which will be conducted virtually from July 22-23.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said it will be the first time that the Games organising committee will hold a meeting with all 11 SEAGF members to update them on their preparations for the 31st edition, from Nov 21-Dec 2 next year.
The hosts are also expected to present their proposed list of sports, which will then be discussed by the members.
All participating nations will be given the opportunity to propose the inclusion of other sports.
“This will be the first meeting where we will find out the progress of preparations and also the initial list of sports, ” said Norza after chairing the OCM executive board meeting yesterday.
“Rather than just accept the list proposed, we have also readied ourselves to defend some sports (that may be dropped by the hosts).
“Our secretary-general (Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Najib) and the NSC (National Sports Council) have already discussed the matter and we have a few priority sports we want to push.”
Vietnam had announced earlier that the Games would include all sports and disciplines contested at the Olympics and Asian Games.
Tran Duc Phan, the deputy director of Vietnam’s General Department of Sports and Physical Training, revealed that Olympics and Asiad sports will account for two thirds of the events at next year’s Games.
For Malaysia, the host’s commitment on prioritising Olympics sports will be music to the ears.
This could mean that sports such as track cycling and diving, which are Malaysia’s forte, would make a comeback in a full programme.
Malaysia won 26 golds, 13 each from these two disciplines, when they emerged the overall champions in Kuala Lumpur 2017.
However, track cycling was not contested in the Philippines last year, while diving offered just four golds, all of which were won by Malaysia.